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Florida coach Dan Mullen has done a lot in terms of turning around the Gators program. He inherited a team that went 4-7 in 2017, missing a bowl for the second time in five years after not having a losing season prior dating back to 1979. Since Mullen took over, the Gators have three New Year’s Six Bowl appearances (and two wins), two 10-win seasons and an SEC East title.
But where does he stack up nationally? Mullen has proven during his short Florida tenure that he’s among the best coaches in the Southeastern Conference not named Nick Saban, but he’s still awaiting a national title (or even a conference title).
Despite the fact that Mullen still has a good bit to prove in terms of being competitive on a championship level, he’s shown enough for CBS Sports college football writer Tom Fornelli to include him in the top 10 of his coaching power rankings.
Mullen comes in at No. 10 overall, definitely a solid place to find himself despite being two spots lower than last year. With that being said, there are a couple of names above him that are a bit surprising. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, who has done amazing work relative to the history of the Cyclones program but is still yet to top nine wins in Ames, ranks No. 9, while Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, who is the winningest coach in program history, ranks No. 8.
Both of these coaches have perhaps done a better job than Mullen relative to the program they’re at, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Campbell is yet to win 10 games and Fitzgerald has never won an NY6 game in 15 years.
Mullen, meanwhile, has pretty much hit every mark aside from a conference title and College Football Playoff appearance despite having the shortest tenure of the three. Here’s what Fornelli said about his decision to rank Mullen 10th.
Dan Mullen: He finally wins the SEC East … and drops two spots in the rankings. Being fair to Mullen and our rankings, his drop was not due to his performance but rather because two coaches jumped him in the rankings after tremendous seasons, pushing him down. While an 8-4 record in 2020 was the worst of Mullen’s three seasons in Gainesville, you can easily argue it was his best season with the Gators. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that if the Florida wins the East again in 2021, Mullen will rise quite a bit in these rankings. 2020 rank: 8 (-2)
Mullen comes in one spot ahead of another conference coach in Ed Orgeron, who’s won a national title. So Fornelli clearly is impressed with what Mullen’s done, and he said he would rise considerably if UF repeats as SEC East champs. Doing so would be an impressive feat for Mullen considering all the team has to replace (and the fact that Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels is getting first-overall pick hype).
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